Shortly after we learned some more details about Comcast’s TV Everywhere trial yesterday at NewTeeVee Live, Disney CEO Bob Iger said on his company’s earnings call that he believes TV Everywhere solutions should not be offered to consumers for free. Broadcasting & Cable reported on the call yesterday, and here’s a transcript of what Iger said (emphasis ours):
Look, TV Everywhere is maybe an example of what we have talked about often, and that is digital technology providing us with more opportunities to reach consumers and consumers more opportunities to consume our product. And to the extent that TV Everywhere serves consumers better, we are in favor of it. However, when you serve consumers better, when you provide more convenience or more utility, you should be able to charge for that and charge an appropriate amount. And some of what we have heard about TV Everywhere suggests that interest in charging the consumer for greater access is not necessarily a priority and we believe it should be.
We also believe that we should still have the ability if we go to a world where there is authentication and TV everywhere for the multi-channel subscriber, we should not be precluded from offering our product directly to consumers who may not be subscribers to multi-channel services, because we believe that would — and even though there aren’t many of them, that wouldn’t necessarily be good for consumers and while we realize we are trying to serve many masters, the master that is most important to serve for us is the consumer.
We’ve been skeptical that MSOs would offer TV Everywhere for free for very long — operators never pass up the opportunity to add a charge. In this case, we wonder if Iger should be so quick to want people to pay. Yes, there are monetization issues surrounding TV Everywhere plans, but as Comcast Interactive president Amy Banse told us yesterday, we’re in the first inning of this new online video world, there’s a lot about how the service will work and how consumers will use it that’s left to be determined. Prioritizing a fee out of the gate would most likely dissuade people from giving the service a fair shot. Besides, every good pusher knows the first hit’s always free.